For Art's Sake with Glee Club's Duncan Burns

Duncan Burns

Duncan Burns

First published in News

Duncan Burns, “chief polisher and head of getting it done” at the Glee Club, Oxford, says Oxford draws the best acts

The most famous comedy festival in the world has been hitting top gear up in Edinburgh. And that has meant that here at Glee Club HQ we had a few quiet days to get our breath back before everyone comes back from Edinburgh and life at our four comedy clubs goes back to normal. By normal we mean busy. And by busy we mean r-e-a-l-l-y busy.

Although we were riveted to the reviews coming out of the Edinburgh Fringe — our tip was to forget the broadsheets and go straight to online comedy bible www.chortle.co.uk — we choose not to make the journey north of the border.

Surprised? It’s actually pretty simple — running four of the countries best live comedy clubs takes a lot of time and effort from a small but very dedicated team. It’s pretty full on. And August for us was a bit like the moment in Blue Peter where they lay out all the painted egg boxes and buttons (substitute egg boxes for top comedians and buttons for comedy savvy audiences) ready for the big moment.

We have a lot of people to welcome to our venues so it’s all hands on deck to be ready. The website is full to the brim with top comedians, we’ll be helping companies to stay calm and book their big Christmas night out and we’ll be looking forward to the second half of the year being one great show after another.

Glee Club Oxford is no exception. In fact, and don’t tell anyone in Birmingham, Nottingham or Cardiff, but Glee Club Oxford always has the best comedians of all four Glee Clubs. Why? London is, for better or worse, home to most of the working comedians in the UK and Oxford is just a tootle up the motorway, so this means you get all the benefits without the hassle of the capital.

Here’s an example — take our line-up at Glee Oxford on Saturday, August 30 — three comedians who would sell out a club or theatre in their own right. Not one headline comedian, but three. Headed up by startlingly talented young Oxfordshire comic Matt Richardson, who returned to his hometown for one night only. You would have recognised Richardson from his stint co-hosting last year’s Xtra Factor, as well as numerous other TV appearances including Celebrity Juice and Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

Matt was joined by Mock the Week favourite and one-liner specialist Gary Delaney; brilliant stand-up, amateur occultist and heavy metal fan Andrew O’Neill and more. Not bad at all. It happens again this week. On Saturday, September 6, Welshman Elis James, fresh from a starring role in Josh Widdicombe’s BBC sitcom pilot Josh, is joined by phenomenal compere Mark Olver, who you might have spotted on Channel 4’s The Last Leg, and Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee Carl Donnelly, who has been preparing to perform his stand-up live on a (Virgin Atlantic) plane alongside Russell Kane.

And this ridiculously high level of comedians at Glee Oxford is a normal thing. These are line-ups way better than even most clubs in London. It’s not just Saturdays that ooze with talent. We have solos from top touring comedians, a rare chance to see global star Danny Bhoy (Oct 8); award-winning nonsense-maker Tony Law (Oct 30 and Katherine Ryan (Nov 20) who, if her Live at the Apollo performance was anything to go by, has a big future ahead of her.

But don’t take our word for it, it’s all at www.glee.co.uk/oxford

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